Hello out there!

I’ve been very naughty, and haven’t written a single thing all week, but I promise you it’s for a good cause! Mama S (who is some kind of determined genius) and I have been working away at my new website, which I hope to launch very soon. We are basically teaching ourselves CSS and WordPress web design, so it’s been a real lesson (for me) in patience. I have none.

I don’t want to completely neglect my posts, so here’s some highlights of the week, complete with fuzzy iPhone photos.

2013-05-27 16.51.54We’re heading to the country this weekend to plant our seeds and seedlings into our garden. I sprouted some seeds with Aylu this week, and it’s amazing how quickly they’ve poked their little heads up. We’re going to sow the rest directly into the soil, which we’ll have delivered on Saturday morning. Before we can plant anything, we have to seal the wooden beds with an Eco sealant and line them with landscaping fabric. It’s going to be a busy weekend!

Last night I actually put on makeup and went out with Mama S and Nekky. Two of my beautiful Coquettes donated an aerial performance for a friend’s benefit, and we wanted to support the event. We lost one of our moms at school to cancer this year, and her children are each in Aylu and Hannu’s classes. She was the same age as me when she died after battling first breast cancer, then a brain tumor for about seven years. It’s so easy to feel totally helpless in the face of that kind of loss, adding to the event with some of our performers really seemed like the least we could do. There was an amazing band who played. CAI.RO is the name of the band, and they have such a wonderful sound. I’m so jaded, because I’m used to seeing bands that are really mediocre at these kinds of events, so it was a real treat to enjoy the music. They describe themselves as ‘cinematic folk pop’ and I’ve decided that I’m just going to love any music described as ‘cinematic’.

2013-05-24 14.58.53Noodle had a bunch of firsts this week. We visited my girlfriend Oonagh and he had his first play date with a boy his own age. Noodle cried and reached for me as he realized that boys play much rougher than his older sisters. By the end of the date, the little fellas were passing toys back and forth, so I think it ended well.  He also tried his first bites of sushi. We’ve been hitting a huge Asian supermarket in Markham called T&T for lunch on Saturdays while the girls are at Ismaili school. Last weekend we tore apart several California rolls for the baby to enjoy. Noah loves the grocery store, especially now that he’s big enough to ride around in a cart.2013-05-28 13.39.23

We’re a month away from moving, and I feel like I’m in a bit of denial. Boxes fill every room, as yet unpacked, but I just can’t bring myself to fill them. There are so many other things to do like writing, gardening, playing with the baby. I’ll figure it all out next week.

Retail Reflections

Retail Reflections


I cemented something for myself last week – I hate the mall. Noodle was having a really fussy day, and Nekky was at a lunch meeting for most of the afternoon, so I packed up and headed to Yorkville Mall because I knew I’d get nothing done at home.

Shopping is the last thing I should be doing during these very frugal days, but I had a stack of gift certificates for Gap Kids and Gymboree, so I decided to take advantage and see what I could find for the monkeys. Noodle and I caught a lift with daddy, and soon we were fully immersed in the artificial oasis.

I’ve been doing a lot of thrifting lately. Most of the kids’ clothes, almost all of the baby’s clothes, and a large chunk of my maternity clothes were second hand. The women in my family have always loved a good treasure hunt. My mom and her sisters grew up very poor, and my clever grandmother managed to turn salvaging other people’s cast offs into a fun adventure. The glee with which my aunties can pour through a Value Village or Salvation Army was contagious as a child, and now I share that love of discovery.

I remember frequent trips to the nearby Amity with my Grandmaman when I would come to visit. We were allowed to pick out a simple toy to add to the toy box in her modest little apartment, and the result was a constantly refreshed trove for her many, many grandchildren to enjoy. One of my favorite playtime activities while visiting was to hand wash an entire vintage pillow case full of baby doll clothes using my grandmother’s own wash board. Then I would lovingly hang each tiny item to dry on the line she kept on her balcony. It’s no wonder that laundry is a chore I actually still enjoy.

My aunts invented Shabby Chic long before it was ever a thing. Each of them owns a collection of unique treasures discovered at antique markets, yard sales, and estate auctions. They’ve worked these gems into their décor with seamless elegance and whimsy. With a tilt of a head, they can re-imagine a sturdy chair with a new coat of paint or refreshed upholstery. They are such wonderfully creative women. market6

As Noodle and I strolled from one brightly lit store to the next, assaulted by the loud, obnoxious music, and overly friendly staff I began to feel more and more stressed out. The prices seemed ludicrous, even on the sale racks, and I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to use the gift certificates on. Soon Noodle began to fuss, because I think he felt affronted by all of the obnoxious over-stimulation. He began to return the overzealous employee greetings with stink-eye, and started trying to rip clothing off the racks while grunting like a little ape.

It was inevitable that I would soon feel the guilt creep in, I am a fallen Catholic after all, and I began thinking about all of those poor people in Bangladesh who died so horribly because they were neglected by a property owner who only cared about making money. In a sense, they died because we want the cheapest deal on manufactured goods, but so many of us are too proud to be caught re-using perfectly good items that are available everywhere for unbelievable prices.

The cheap labor debate is one that I have mixed feelings about. Some overseas factories really do offer people a livelihood and a means to support their family in the face of some seriously heinous alternatives. This is no excuse to neglect people or take such horrible advantage of their position. I think so many of us get caught up in our tendency towards commercialism that we don’t think much about how those much-coveted items arrive in our malls and how lives are affected in the process.

Of course I want adorable clothing for my kids. I also don’t want to waste some perfectly good gift certificates that were gifted to us. I LOVED the Joe label before this Bangladesh catastrophe gave me pause, but how can I spend money on their products when 300 people died and Joe doesn’t seem in any hurry to make their factory conditions better? The company website states that in the face of the Bangladesh tragedy they are “taking steps” to ensure better conditions, but I’ll be more impressed if they dedicate a portion of their website to seeing how that plays out. A carefully crafted press release feels a bit like lip service to me.

I’m not militant about these things. I’m lazy, and cheap, and I’m sometimes a real consumerist pig. I love Target for example, and I’ll probably keep shopping there, but we need to think about this, don’t we? How badly do we need “stuff”? Is it worth taking advantage of people who are already struggling so that we can get a cheap deal? Can’t we cough up a couple of additional dollars so that they can make a more decent wage?

It’s easy to just hit Walmart and drop some dollars to get the best deal. We do it every week for our groceries because the savings is unbelievable. How does a family of six justify spending hundreds of dollars more each week to buy locally raised meat and local produce? Costco has saved us SO MUCH MONEY!

I don’t have answers to these questions, and I’m not going to be a preachy hypocrite. I think it’s because I’m feeling my own disgust at all of the stuff we’ve amassed over the years that I feel so grossed out by consumerism. How do we make these issues better without extending ourselves beyond our means?  What can we actually do?

I suppose a place to start is buying clothing more responsibly. Here’s a great article from the National Post with some ethical shopping tips. I’d love to hear from readers about how this. Are you shopping ethically? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, can you give us tips to make this work for our large family?

Zombies, Boobies and Bamboo

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 8.39.04 PMSome pretty bizarre things can occupy my brain space, and this week has been no exception. Have a listen and let me know if you think I’m nuts.

 The Walking Dead

We’ve started watching the AMC series ‘The Walking Dead” and of course we’re hooked. We polished off season one last night, and though I love the show, I feel consumed with guilt because Noah is usually up while we’re watching. We don’t let him actively see the TV, because none of our children watch much TV, and because I don’t think his infant brain should be exposed to rotting animated corpses, but I’ve convinced myself that the mere sounds of the living dead eating human flesh will corrupt him.

Today he began making this low, grunting noise all day long. At first we were jokingly calling him Randy Macho Man Savage. However, watching him sitting at the head of the table, half asleep with a glazed expression, gaping mouth waiting for the next spoonful, growling loudly, I could only think one thing. Zombies. I worry that despite all of our careful efforts, the wrong ideas are still seeping into our kids’ melons.

Further evidence to this fact was Hannah watching daddy prepare the massive beef tenderloin he grilled for dinner tonight. She squealed with delight and said, “Daddy! Pick up the knife in your bloody hands again! You look like a murderer and the tenderloin looks like the leg of a sexy lady!”

Jesus. Christ. How much of Dexter was wafting up the stairs and permeating their sleeping minds??


Angelina’s Boobs

You’ve all heard the news by now, of course. If not, check out the scoop here. I woke up this morning feeling pretty impressed by Angelina sharing her story so publicly. In fact, I will freely and openly admit that her actions inspired me to also get tested for this gene at my next physical. I will also admit that because an enormously famous sexy babe elected to have her breasts removed (and no doubt replaced with a pair of awesome fake boobs) I absolutely feel like that decision is one that I would be just a bit more comfortable making for myself.

What does that make me? A lemming? A sheep that is too easily influenced by the media? I don’t know why Angelina suddenly made lopping my boobs off okay. Actually, I do. It had little to do with Angelina and more to do with how cancer has ravaged too many people who I am genetically linked to, and taken them away from us too soon. Something about a superstar admitting so publicly to their own bold decisions to protect their family from the tragedy of cancer was inspiring. The end.



Our eldest daughter has been working hard at her first independent study project this week. Her class each had to choose a traditional home structure to research and build on their own. The structure needs to be one that is man-made and the materials used in this project had to represent these kinds of materials. Hannah chose an Iraqi reed house.

She determined that woven materials would work best for building the house, which is made entirely of reeds. We determined that Chinatown was the most obvious place in the city to shop for woven things. Nekky and I grabbed the girls from school and set off, planning to have Mamma S meet us there for dinner when she was done work.

The first shop we hit was Plaiter Place. We had our big stroller to contend with and a sleeping Noah inside, so Nek parked it as strategically as he could near the cash. The store was tiny, but we managed to find a spot that didn’t block the cash from the customers or block in the lady who was working at the counter. The store was a goldmine. We found all of the supplies we needed in short order, and then a whole bunch of other beautiful things for our homeschool classroom, and a couple of fun trinkets for Ayla.

As we respectfully made our way through the shop, admiring everything, I noticed a man who was working there in some kind of serious frenzy, racing around. He seemed very irate. While Nekky and Hannah were making their final decisions at the back of the store, Ayla and I headed to the front of the store to check on Noah and to decide on which little delight she would go home with.

Irate shop-keeper man came charging to the front of the store, and rather than going around the stroller, or letting me move it out of the way, as I clearly offered, and he ignored, he shoved the stroller and rushed past it, knocking over a basket full of little wallets. As I stooped to pick them up and collect my baby and my Ayla, the shopkeeper revealed that he did, in fact, speak some English when he uttered “FUCK!” In front of my seven year old.

I ushered Ayla and Noah outside, texting Nekky to let him know what happened. He sent the girls and I ahead while first he checked the next store to make sure they had supplies we could use, and then he exchanged some choice words with the shop-keeper at Plaiter Place. In front of some more would-be customers.

We used this as an opportunity to teach the girls about customer service, and how we only spend our money in places where they treat their customers respectfully. Ayla was a bit stunned at how rude the guy was. Hannah was worried that we wouldn’t be able to find materials elsewhere.

Fast-forward to after an exhaustive hunt of Chinatown with two sleepy girls followed by a fairly epic Korean feast when we realize that one key piece we’ll need for windows can only be found in Plaiter Place. What were we to do? Send Mamma S on a covert operation of course! Yet another instance where three parents give us an advantage.

Of course the kids IMMEDIATELY figured out what was happening, and totally called us out with a classic “But YOU said…” We’re not perfect. Not by any stretch, and so I used our hypocrisy as another life lesson and said that we would go to great lengths to make sure our children succeed with all of the projects they tackle in life. Sigh.

Project reed house has blown our minds. No surprises, Hannah is brilliant. I’ll share some of her mad skills later this week. Meanwhile, let’s pray my children don’t start eating brains, stalking hookers, or getting into fist fights with shopkeepers.





16 Days

A Little Tin of Chocolate

I began writing this blog in 2008, fresh after a breakup from a very complicated relationship, and filled with excitement because I was about to embark on a solo vacation to Paris. Life felt pretty huge and terrifying then. I was raw with emotion, and apprehensive about what the future held for me. When I returned from my trip, I would have no place to live, and I’d be facing the realities of being single and thirty-something.

I drank Paris in, and fell deeply in love with a city that I always suspected would have a special place in my heart. Because I was on a very tight budget, I allowed myself only a few token souvenirs, mostly purchased at a well-stocked supermarket and the Parisian equivalent of Winners. One of these mementos was a tin of French drinking chocolate, so I could enjoy the delicious little ritual I had created for myself each afternoon no matter where I ended up back home in Canada.

When my new family and I combined our households, the chocolate tin came with me. I hadn’t expected the chocolate to survive, but the tin was pretty so I imagined we could use it for storage in our kitchen. French chocolate is resilient though, and to my amazement still tastes as good as it did when I first bought it almost five years ago.

On Tuesday night, A and Daddy made us a post-dinner hot chocolate and marshmallow nightcap, and all five of us sat around the table enjoying it together. As I gazed at the faces of these beautiful girls who have been one of the greatest gifts of my life thus far, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. Strolling through the aisles of that Parisian grocery store, trying to choose just the right thing to bring home, I had resigned myself to believing that children and family were a long, long way off and perhaps something that were not meant for me in Schnooville. But now I sat surrounded by my family, (a family I have chosen against all odds, and a family who freely chose me despite all of my flaws), drinking that Parisian chocolate and ready to burst with another brand new life who gets to go through each day with these wonderful people. I feel no fear about this huge milestone because my heart believes I am exactly where I should be, with the people I need most in my life.

Look defeat in the eye and love yourself even harder. Tell disappointment that you deserve better. Treat your broken heart to vacations and decadent chocolate and trust that somehow, probably in the most unpredictable way, it will all work out. If you believe that you are lovable, the love you crave will find you.

H & A Enjoy Some Tummy Time:

Twelve Weeks

I think I’ve been suffering from an identity crises. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited Schnooville, and since those days of writing with wanton abandon I’ve learned to censor myself, compartmentalize my personality into a series of personas, hold my tongue, stay in my house, and generally be wary and tired where the world is concerned.

Something about growing a person (yay, big news!!!!) kind of snaps you back to reality – or at least in the direction of the reality that you want. Schnooville is my zone, and I’m not ready to leave it behind. I might never be ready to stop sharing my slice of the world here. It feels good. It feels connected to something bigger than me. It feels useful. Most importantly, it feels like me and not some construct for public consumption. Ironic perhaps, but “me” is kind of where I need to be right now.

I’m staring down the barrel of my life these days. Some of it is working beautifully, and some of it is not and I can’t keep holding on to a dream that may never bear fruit. I want a real job (funny time to realize that), I want to contribute to my family in a measurable way, and I want to be realistic about what is possible and what is not. I want to have it all, but I’m fine tuning what the “it” is. I’m dreaming of a blissful, exhausting, enlightening year and a half of early motherhood and then perhaps school, or training, and a whole new path.

I’m posting some entries here that I wrote over several months leading up to present day. Apologies if you’ve read some of them before. They used to live on a blog I created when I thought I might become the poster child for my alternative lifestyle. The truth is, I’m still figuring out how to live, so I don’t really feel like I’m in a position of advocacy, unless there is some merit in advocating getting through each day feeling really good.

That’s my goal now – one foot in front of the other, careful steps, lots of truth, and hopefully good choices.

As for baby, whom the girls have affectionately dubbed as “Mixed Bacon” because this is a term they have created for a person of unknown gender, it’s happy and healthy thus far and my fingers and toes remain crossed that all will continue to go well.

Power Outage

I’m exhausted today for no explicable reason. I slept well last night, with a decent bed time. So strange…

At 2:30 this afternoon the power failed, fortunately right after I completed the work projects on my to-do list for the day, so I did what any reasonable person would do – I curled up on the sofa with a book and promptly fell asleep. It wasn’t much of a nap though, so I expect it will be a low-key evening for me. Everyone should nap. I really love it so much – the process of just shutting off for an hour or so in the middle of the day.

We’re in the home stretch now before our loved ones return and I’m so looking forward to hearing all of their stories and seeing all of the pictures. This trip was important for us – lots of things were discovered about our relationships, and for me despite how hard it was, it was really good to miss these people that I love. I feel like the “me” time was really rewarding, and I feel like I will appreciate everyone even more when they return.

How incredible for my lady and I to just enjoy each others’ company. I so enjoyed the chats we had, the meals we shared, and the little dates we made along the way. It was nice to know that we manage just fine on our own.

Some additional killer recipes were discovered on Epicurious:

This stir-fry is astounding. I added a clove of minced garlic, and used only one mandarin orange and it was perfect.

Last night I tried this with a Rowe Farms chicken. My lady had a funny tummy, so the subtle flavour really hit the spot. Delicious. I roasted it until the thigh read 185 degrees.

This weekend includes visits with friends, brunch to celebrate the engagement of my best guy pal to his lovely lady, dancing with some hot babes, and a visit with my family to celebrate my dad’s and brother’s birthdays. So many Leos in Schnooville! I feel inspired right now, and so grateful for the abundance of love and opportunity in my life. I even have the great Arthur visiting for the weekend. Now I just need some caffeine so I can go and take a bite out of Friday night.


A Slice of Heaven


The image above was featured today on Apartment Therapy, one of my favourite blogs. I think this might be my dream home and my dream bedroom. My taste is changing so much. I used to love riots of colour and kitsch, and now the serenity and calm of modern lines, with natural elements really speak to me. For you designer-types, I’d call it eco-conscious mid-century modern.

Serenity. That’s my word for this 35th year of my life. I’m going to make it my absolute priority to transcend my tendency towards stress, anxiety, worry, and fiesty-ness. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to accomplish this, but I’ll be sure to share whatever I’ve learned. One thing I realized, just this morning, is that the more irritable and anxious I am, the more I need alone time. I think if I’m not careful just to take time out, just for me, for mindless alone activities I start to go a little squirrely.

A cottage weekend is on the horizon. My grown-up dream is to have a very green cottage. No motor boats, totally sustainable, and totally escape pod like. It will have to have a fully outfitted kitchen, amazing indoor and outdoor dining space, quiet corners for reading, and a body of water at either the front door or back door. In a perfect life, when we’re not traveling, I’m living there as long as I can and only heading back to the city when I absolutely need to. I think I’d rather invest in something like that than a permanent dwelling in the city. I hope I can convince my loves that this is a great idea. The girls would absolutely love it and really benefit from it too. The only unfortunate part is the commuting to and from. Not so green, but if we pack 5 people in the car, and only travel when we absolutely need to, perhaps it’s not so bad?

So, this weekend will be my quiet wicker swing. I’m so looking forward to being near the lake again.

Dashing Down Your Dreams

I spent the morning staring at Sassafras

Despite a rough start – not much sleep again, and I began the day by pouring the bunny’s food into my full cup of coffee – this is shaping up to be an excellent day in Schnooville.

This morning I sat on the patio of a Yorkville cafe frantically searching from my book edits to work on. My wife was getting her hairs did at Lid Salon by our family stylist and dear friend Angela McQueen. I finally remembered that my chapters had been saved to a Dropbox folder, but before that, and during a panic of epic proportion, I discovered a Google doc that I had created in 2009. Here’s what it said, and I’ve added my own notes on progress:

Schnoo’s Two-Year Dream Plan:

  • A warm, well-organized home to call our own. This includes a guest bedroom that is also our back-up bedroom, a yard with a garden, a creative workspace – DONE
  • The ability to create my own work schedule and work anywhere and anytime that I want to- DONE
  • Many opportunities to express myself creatively both for pleasure and profit- DONE
  • My first published piece of work – IN PROGRESS
  • In the best shape of my life with a very healthy attitude towards exercise – PROGRESSING WELL!
  • Radical growth of my blog with monetizing ability – see – IN PROGRESS (I have to simply commit to writing every single day. Strangely, taking on more responsibility with our family business may facilitate that.)
  • All close family members and loved ones totally aware of our reality – DONE – RESOUNDING success, and only a couple of stories of heartache
  • All immediate family members aware of our reality – DONE
  • Amazing summer travel adventures as a family – NOT YET – hopefully in the early New Year
  • Occasional adults-only travel retreats – DONE (ONGOING)
  • Consulting with artists and friends to help them organize their ideas and set in motion creative and business plans – IN PROGRESS, casual
  • Securing funding for Les Coquettes for operations and production – IN PROGRESS – Not sure why this was in italics, but we’re seeing this unfold now.
  • Try to have a baby – VERY GLAD THIS ONE DIDN’T HAPPEN! It’s still something I want but if you’re a regular reader you’ll know we had a lot of groundwork to lay and lots of shit to sort out in these last two years. We’ve done a great job after lots of trial and tribulation. I’m happy to report that we’re looking forward to this next chapter, if we are lucky enough to be blessed with more children someday.

I was amazed to be able to check so many things off this list! I’m definitely doing this again this year. Probably tomorrow on my birthday. I’m feeling so grateful for all we’ve accomplished, and it’s really put a lot into perspective for me – what a little blessing today!

I’m still so homesick for my family, and I was feeling a bit down this morning, but I feel seriously cheered by the discovery of this little list. What wonderful, supportive partners I have to help me realize my dream life! I feel more ready than ever before to open my heart and have more faith in myself than ever to really embrace the kind of life I’ve always dreamed of.

Tonight is ladies’ night with dinner at Sidecar and then the Toronto Burlesque Festival at the Mod Club. I have a fabulous pair of periwinkle blue suede cage booties that are begging me to take them out on the town. Mamma-cation 2011 is going well today!

Adventures in Freedom, Day One

The beautiful Yorkville location of Anthropologie

A day in the life of a mother and wife who finds herself suddenly without responsibility.

The crew got off without a hitch late yesterday afternoon, and then I had a good cry. I nearly lost it when our seven-year-old held on to me so tight and her eyes started to well up. Both girls gave me a great send off that might just get me through. Saying goodbye to their daddy was bittersweet too. More tears, then I locked myself in our house and got the rest of the waterworks out of my system.

I couldn’t immediately relax into the quiet, empty, and oh-so-messy state of affairs, so I had my girl meet me at our local pub for dinner. Then I tagged along to her baseball game, which I promise you was more a commentary on my loneliness than my love of baseball.

Home just before 10pm, I curled up with my new book, a birthday present from my loves, the hilarious Amy Sedaris craft book “Simple Times”. I got about ten pages in before my lack of sleep from the night before took over. My phone was plugged into the bedside and right beside my head so that I would wake when my travelers texted to report they had landed in Amsterdam.

The phone didn’t wake me, but Ella the Bunny who broke into our bedroom did. She was on the empty pillow beside me and licking my forehead. I thought it was cute and gave her a scratch only to realize that she had nestled in and peed all over the pillow. Misery. I managed to execute a very basic clean up without waking my girlfriend, which I think means that I’m awesome.

The travelers made it to their first stop at about 12:30 am our time. The girls hadn’t slept on the plane because it was flying directly towards the sunset. Apparently they were like zombies who were starving at the Amsterdam airport, so they attempted to take on McDonald’s but our littlest one projectile vomited her airplane dinner all over the place before they could eat. Good thing Mama C (that’s me) packed some wet wipes and a change of clothes in the carry on. Daddy had to give her a bath in the men’s room sink.

This morning I overslept and had to race to meet my beautiful buddy Ming Wong for breakfast. I went to the location I had originally thought of instead of the location we finally decided upon. Fortunately they are mere blocks away from each other. It was lovely, and she treated because of my day of birth looming on the horizon. Then I took a little tour through Anthropologie. I love that store, but I seldom ever buy anything because I find it ridiculously expensive. Strangely, being there made me want to sew. I hate sewing.

After this, I hit the library to pick up a stack of books on hold. My latest trick is to find books with incredible reviews on Amazon, borrow them from the library, and buy second hand copies (again on Amazon) of the ones that are keepers. I was on my bike and by 11am the heat was making me feel a bit stoopid. I pedaled home oh-so-slowly and then drank lots of water and attempted to launder the bedding.

In case you were wondering, bed pillows shouldn’t go into your economy-sized washing machine.  A little while after starting the wash, while tidying the kitchen, I heard a thud-thud-thud which I first thought was coming from the neighbours’, and then feared might be the rabbit (who is a mere four pounds.) Realizing the sound was coming from the basement I hurried down to find the washer literally jumping across the floor. The sodden pillow had become so heavy that it was actually wrestling the spin cycle. I liberated it, got soaking wet, and then put it out on the porch. The washer survived.

The rest of the day has looked like this:

Major tidy of the main living space/work space (you can drop in now for a visit and I will actually answer the door)

Kitchen tidy

Main floor vacuum (bunny hair sheds twice a year and it’s more like marabou feathers than pet hair. someone should have warned us!)

Shopping (online of course. for the same price as one dress at Anthropologie I got two dresses, a bathing suit, some wedge sandals, some suede thigh-high boots, two tops, and a linen/silk blend sweater. even more fantastic, I spent my birthday money from mom and dad on these wishlist items at

Les Coquettes work (approved our poster for the upcoming New Year’s Eve extravaganza and began working on a press release for said magical event)

Real job work (so much quicker and easier than I even imagined)

Now I’m awaiting the bat signal from my lady. We’re having dinner and drinks tonight with her new pal from work and his partner. My first ever queer double-date! Whee!

The other members of my family arrived safely in Nairobi at about 12:30 pm our time. I’m hoping for a phone call, but can be patient and wait until they are human again tomorrow.

Not so shabby for day one, but you can bet I’m still going to be crossing days off the calendar. This really isn’t so bad though! It’s like the very best of the Fortress days all over again, with the warmth of knowing I have so many people who love me.